I often browse websites i know of, in search of future potential purchases. I'm always hopeful that i'll stumble across a sale, special offer, bin-end or bargain. While doing this today i realised i haven't bought wine in ages! I don't mean to say that i haven't bought any wine at all, i've bought the odd supermarket bottle here and there for evening and weekend drinking. What i mean is, i haven't bought wine by the case. Over the last year or two, we've purchased a case of wine, probably, every 2 months or so. These wines are usually for everyday drinking, but i do I also like to pick up goodies for the cellar in smaller lots, of maybe 2-3 bottles. You know, slightly more special bottles that may be ready for drinking now or that are to be shut away for a few years. This said, i haven't done this since going to france in march. So that's no big buys in over 3 months!
For me, buying wine by the case usually means from either Naked Wines or Virgin wines. I like both these companies for a few reasons. The one thing they have in common is that you can join, and become a member, without commitment. Companies like laithwaites and the sunday times wine club (i don't want to poo-poo anyone here, they're just not for me!) usually make you commit in an 'opt-out' style. They'll send you a case periodically, and charge you, unless you tell them not to. Naked and Virgin wines don't do this. What these companies ask for is a monthly 'savings payment'. You pay at least £20 per month into an online account and then use this credit to buy wines, whenever you're ready. Apparently, you can get your money out of this ethereal account at any time and without penalty, but i've never done it. Thats a good way to start, but i also like these companies because they have different wines. Virgin have a good range of wines that you don't see in the shops everyday, but Naked wines are my favourite. They take the money you pay into your account, and buy wine with, and invest it in new up-and-coming winemakers. This means that the wines they sell are often brand new and exclusive. They're also, very frequently, really high quality and very good value. Incidently, the wife and i are at the Naked wines tasting evening tonight, so readers can expect a piece on that pretty soon!
Because i haven't 'invested' in wine much lately, I've been looking through the websites of merchants and other wine sources. I check out Nickolls and Perks quite often because they specialise in Chateau Musar. They have pretty competitive prices, along with a great sellection of in-bond wines by the case (12 bottles). One thing i have my eye on at N&P, apart from all their stock, is the Chateau Reynon 2009 premier cote de bordeaux. The 2009 vintage makes this interesting to start with, the price tag of about £12 a bottle also appeals. This wine though, is really appealing because it's made by the director of vine and wine sciences at the University of Bordeaux, Prof. Denis Dubourdieu. You'd like to think he knows a thing or two about making good wine! Just one of about 6 properties the Dubourdieu family owns, Ch Reynon often crops-up as i'm reading wine articles. It's quoted as being the major player in the entre deux mers region of Bordeaux, being from Cadillac. Since N&P also sell this wine by the bottle, duty paid, i think i may have to get some to taste. If it's good i'll probably get a case for the cellar too!
Now, supermarket wines are, more often than not, average. You can sometimes find a gem if you get lucky, no doubt. However, most of the UK supermarkets now have separate wine by-the-case websites. I've been perusing Tesco wines over the past few days. They have the normal wines from their shelves, but they also have non-store stock too. Someone at Tesco must know something about wine, because they have a really large proportion of 2009 Bordeaux reds. I reckon, that when 2009 was acclaimed as the vintage of all vintages, presumably upon tasting in 2010, Tesco thought "we'll have a piece of that action!". So much so that they used their buying power and capital to get as much as possible. They have the big names, Margaux, Haut Brion, Cheval Blanc, Rothschild, Leoville, etc, etc. These are priced as you might expect, but are in fact restricted to a single case per customer. They do though have many other medium level options, many that I'd like to have in my cellar. Examples included, Chasse-spleen, Senejac, Potensac, Cantemerle, Poujeaux, Graud-Larose, Talbot, and many others. These range in price, but are all competitive. They have Ch Fonreaud at £15 a bottle, which is not too shabby. They have Sociando-Mallet at under £30 a bottle. All prices shown are duty-paid and inclusive of VAT, which is refreshing to see, so you don't get a shock at checkout. The best thing, in my opinion, is that although they say "wine by the case", they mean 6 bottles, not 12! Normally, buying wine by the case gets you the best value in savings. But you have to spend a lot to save a lot! Buying 6 bottles from Tesco seems to be a great option, you get the case savings without havign to stump-up a load of dosh. This is something that doesn't crop up very frequently, so is very pleasing to see.
My plan is to save a few squids over the next couple of months and try to buy some 2009 vintage wines for my cellar. The options are open, I could spend £300 on a single case of 6 bottles of Ch Graud-Larose. These will sit for 10 years before opening up into their drinking window. Alternatively, I could spend my money on 6 bottle of Chasse-spleen AND 6 bottles of Potensac. That would be a treat. They'd be ready to drink pretty soon, but will also have a good shelf-life of 15+ years. Whatever I decide to do, Tesco wines seems like a good option. additionally, I think I'll probably end up buying some Ch Reynon. It's very hard to resist such a seemingly great value vine! The only down side to all this is, is having to save the pennies in the first place! Now where did I put that lottery ticket... :-)